Eastern Europe Bucks Yuan-Led Rout as Currencies Gain With Bonds

Updated on

The European Union’s east is resisting the global emerging-market slump, with the region’s bonds gaining and currencies outperforming as investors shift out of those countries most reliant on China and commodities.

Hungary and Romania led advances in developing-nation bonds, while the Czech Republic’s koruna was the only currency to resist declines against both the dollar and euro. Polish government bonds rose for a fourth day, reducing 10-year yields to a two-week low of 2.87 percent as of noon in London.

The divergence shows how central European economies are providing a haven for some investors after China’s devaluation of the yuan roiled the markets of export-dependent nations already hurt by waning commodity revenue. The former communist countries are net importers of oil, rely more on Germany than China for trade an are protected by the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program from the worst effects of likely U.S. interest-rate increases.

“There’s a rotation away from some Asian emerging-market stories to central and eastern Europe,” Michael Trounce, a Standard Chartered Plc strategist in London, said by phone. “Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic are not as exposed to the commodities cycle as the other emerging markets.”

The yuan led the biggest two-day selloff in Asian currencies since 2008 after the devaluation, fueling concern that financial-market volatility will curb global economic growth. Stocks fell around the world, while investors piled into gold and higher-rated government bonds from the U.S. and Germany to the Czech Republic and Poland.

PineBridge, Romania

The yield on Hungary’s 10-year sovereign domestic bonds fell six basis points while the forint strengthened 0.2 percent to the euro and 1.2 percent against the dollar. Among the worst-hit emerging markets, Indonesia’s rupiah slumped 1.4 percent to the dollar and Malaysia’s ringgit fell 1.3 percent.

PineBridge Investments, with $10.6 billion of emerging-market fixed-income assets, last week increased its holdings of Romania’s dollar bonds, saying the EU’s second-poorest nation is a “safe haven” for investors concerned about the impact of Chinese economic slowdown. The yield on the country’s $1 billion of debt maturing in January 2024 fell four basis points today to 3.73 percent, the lowest in more than two months.

Rates on comparable notes from Indonesia, which has the same Baa3 credit rating as Romania, the lowest investment grade, from Moody’s Investors Service, jumped 11 basis points to 4.44 percent, the highest in more than two weeks. Dollar bonds from junk-rated Hungary due March 2023 yielded 4.07 percent.

“Eastern Europe could provide some market stability” and “offers opportunities ahead of the possible Fed rate hike,” Anders Faergemann, senior sovereign portfolio manager at PineBrdige, said by e-mail on Tuesday.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE